Northumberland has some great National Trust properties to enjoy, from tiny houses to magnificent estates and you will find each and every one fascinating and an absolute joy to visit. Cragside sits within the Northumberland National Park near the market town of Rothbury and the house, the gardens, the estate and even the drive from St Oswald’s over to Cragside is impressive on the biggest scale. Cragside House and Estate was created by Lord William and Lady Margaret Armstrong, William who was a visionary Victorian inventor and Margaret a keen gardener and together their vision and their passion for engineering and natural sciences transformed a baron land into what we see today.
The Victorian mansion was a pioneering home, perhaps the first ever ‘smart home’, it was the first house to be powered by hydroelectricity generated using hydraulics which harnessed power from nearby lakes. Throughout the house you will see many of the ‘mod cons’ that the Armstrongs and their guests enjoyed and their staff used, an early dishwasher, rotating spits, fitted sinks with hot running water and even central heating. The library houses four of the inventor Joseph Swan’s original incandescent lamps and the house shone with electric light, which was powered by Armstrong’s expertly integrated hydroelectricity system.
The gardens are just as impressive, enjoy the formal garden which covers three acres and lies over three levels and enjoys views to the South overlooking the Coquet Valley and the Simonside Hills. There are plenty of places to sit and enjoy the formal garden and it includes the Orchard House, The Clock Tower and The Quatrefoil Pool although the centrepiece has to be the Italian Terrace.
Enjoy a stroll through The Pinetum which is made up of a collection of non-native coniferous trees all planted especially for their scale and size and is home to some of the tallest of their kind in the UK. Planted 160 years ago, the original trees still stand today and as you gaze upwards they create such a majestic feel and remember to keep your eyes peeled for red squirrels as you saunter. From the Pinetum a walk along the waterside brings you to iconic iron bridge and beyond that the Rock Garden, a rockery on a monumental scale that is filled with azaleas and rhododendrons. Cragside is renowned for it’s annual show of over a million rhododendrons and June is wonderful time of year to see this spectacle.
There are over 40 miles of footpaths at Cragside and there are some great walks and trails to help you navigate your way around, choose from The Armstrong Trail, The Gun Walk, Nelly’s Moss Lakes Walk or the Inspiration Walk, all the trails are downloadable on the National Trust website.
To fully appreciate the Armstrong’s creation then be sure to take the Carriage Drive which is a 6 mile route around the Estate with plenty of places to stop and admire the view or park up in one of the many car parks and explore on foot on one of the waymarked walks. Look out for caves, sculptures, the timber flume, boathouses and of course the wonderful wildlife that is resident in this beautiful part of Northumberland.
As you would come to expect from a National Trust property there are all the usual amenities and there are three eateries offering breakfast, lunch and plenty of cakes and bakes. Cragside is a full day out but please bear in mind that many of the paths are steep and can be rough in places so do wear appropriate footwear. Cragside is one of our favourite days out and we hope you love it as much as we do.
Nothing says ‘holiday’ more than heading out into the great outdoors with a picnic, so whether you simply throw some crusty bread and cheese in your backpack or you carefully prepare a gourmet basket of goodies, you will find plenty of perfect picnic spots in Northumberland.
National Trust and English Heritage sites are always a great choice for an al fresco lunch with benches, picnic tables and grassy areas aplenty. At Wallington Hall throw down your picnic blanket in the grassy courtyard or saunter off along one of the many walks to find some dappled shade or sit and enjoy the peace and tranquility within the walled garden. A trip to Cragside offers a huge area in which to enjoy your perfect picnic with perhaps some of the best spots being as you navigate The Carriage Drive with lots of lakeside dining areas to choose from and some hidden in the beautiful woodland of the Cragside Estate.
A visit to our Northumbrian Market Towns are a great day trip and a picnic can make for a relaxing lunchtime pitstop. Hexham boasts the beautiful Abbey grounds which includes the pretty bowling green surrounded by seating where you can enjoy an outdoor lunch and if you’re lucky you may even be able to enjoy all the sights and sounds of an outdoor bowls match. Carlisle Park in Morpeth is another great destination for a a picnic lunch and this lovely market town also offers the opportunity to stroll along the banks of the River Wansbeck or even row, row, row your boat up the river.
As far as scenic picnic spots go there can be few better than the dramatic landscape of Hadrian’s Wall, so throw a picnic together and venture out to enjoy some of the wonderful walks this area provides, although with so many wonderful vistas to admire it can be hard to choose. A short 20 minute drive takes you to the very impressive Cawfields which is one of the best preserved stretches of the Wall and provides the opportunity enjoy your packed lunch by the lake or at the sheltered picnic site before burning off some of those calories and taking the scenic walk to Milecastle 42.
Kielder Water & Forest Park covers an area of hundreds of square miles so finding a secluded but picturesque place to picnic is easy. With large grassed areas, picnic tables dotted all over, designated picnic areas and miles and miles of wide open space Kielder is the perfect place to escape and just enjoy the quiet and the vastness of this remote part of Northumberland. The Visit Kielder website is packed full of information on everything that can be enjoyed at Kielder.
Fancy a picnic and a paddle? Well just pick a beach, any beach on the North East coast. All of our Northumberland beaches are heavenly, the whole of our coastline offers wide, sweeping beaches of golden sands that boast to be some of the quietest in the country, there are hidden coves, huge sea views together with pathways, rockpools and dunes, all perfect for a romantic picnic for two. Although I’m afraid we can’t guarantee you won’t get sand in your sandwiches!
The beauty of a picnic means you can enjoy one anytime anywhere and you certainly don’t have to travel far to enjoy some open air dining when you stay at St Oswald’s Farm. We invite you to use our farm map and take a walk around our farmland and head to ‘our favourite spot’ on the farm. Brady’s Crag or The Bottom Crag as we call it, is the most perfect place to admire one of the best views from St Oswald’s and it’s a great place to enjoy an evening walk and witness our huge skies and spectacular Northumbrian sunsets. We provide a rug and a backpack in the cottage so all you need to do is chill a bottle of something lovely, grab some glasses and some tasty bites and take the 10 minute walk. We hope you are able to sit back and enjoy what we truly love about where we live.
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